Cindy Sherman’s Gravity: A Critical Fable

FIRST THE STORY and then the moral. That the story itself concerns a specific act of art criticism attests to the fact that what I understand as the point of this exercise is neither the universally shared nor even the preponderantly held view of the matter.

Earlier this year I agreed to contribute to a projected book on Cindy Sherman. Having spent some time with the work, I then reviewed the critical literature, which divides, roughly, into three groups. First there is the writing of the early and mid ’80s, when Sherman’s art was received in relation to the initial theorizing of post-Modernism. The endless fracturing of her persona into so many cinematic roles was read in connection to a notion of the Death of the Author, which is to say, of a deliberate abandonment of authorial intention as the ground of a work’s meaning, and its replacement with a set of cultural significations preexisting

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